The study of vascular biology using zebra fish
The field of vascular biology consists of both positive and negative regulation of blood vessel growth, remodeling and functions. The most common and most lethal or debilitating diseases are characterized by either overwhelming blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) such as in cancer, eye disease, obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or arthrosclerosis or insufficient angiogenesis such as in myocardial infarction, stroke and impaired wound healing/regeneration. Furthermore blood vessel functions are critically determining the progression and pathogenecity of these and other diseases as well as the prognosis of the patients. Therefore research in the dynamics of blood vessel growth and functions holds great perspectives as a way to indentify new and better targets for treating patients with these highly morbid conditions.
In recent years, research on blood vessels has greatly benefited from the introduction of zebrafish models. Zebrafish embryos are transparent, are developing very quickly, and furthermore outside of the mother, which makes them highly favored for studies on developmental biology, including as models of developmental angiogenesis. Furthermore they are particularly amenable to forward and reverse genetic as well as pharmacologic studies making them powerful in vivo tools for identification of novel genes or compounds with biological functions – for example via screens.
In our research we are further expanding the use of zebrafish by introducing models of hypoxia-induced angiogenesis. Hypoxia is the leading trigger of angiogenesis in all angiogenesis-dependant diseases including cancer and eye disease, and even leads to pathological transformation of the function of the existing vasculature. However, hypoxia cannot be accurately studied in mouse, or other mammalian models, as the respiration of land living animals is not sufficiently effective to suffer moderately to highly reduced oxygen levels. Zebrafish are different, and survive indefinitely in as little as 10% of normally saturated water, making them a perfect candidate for studies on hypoxia-induced or –modulated effects.
I was introduced to zebrafish and vascular biology during my ph.d studies at the Karolinska Institute in Prof. Yihai Cao’s research group. When I started there were very few people interested in zebrafish in Sweden, but today all larger medical research facilities have activities which include research on zebrafish. Also here at Linköping university the interest in zebrafish has been steadily growing, culminating the recent decision to invest in zebrafish by building a full-size zebrafish facility which caters to all interested researchers.
I would like to welcome all that think they could benefit from zebrafish-based models to contact me, and I will be happy to discuss how best to integrate this remarkable model organism in your research!
Name: Lasse Jensen
Position: Post doc
Department: Department of Medical and Health Sciences
Division: Cardiovascular Medicine
Entrance 68, floor 08
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Department of Medical and Health Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences
SE-581 85 LINKÖPING
Last updated: 2013-01-18